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Two Consumer Behavior Case Studies: The Weather Channel and GrowIt!

Understanding why viewers and users behave like they do is critical to developing success strategies for The Weather Channel and mobile app GrowIt! Here’s how these two brands segment their consumers.

Viewer Segmentation: The Weather Channel

Two Consumer Behavior Case Studies: The Weather Channel and GrowIt!

Several years back, Insight to Action had the privilege of working with Frank Garland (current CEO of Realtime Brackets, but formerly SVP of Sales at The Weather Channel) and others on the executive team at The Weather Channel to understand more about their core viewers. While I’m sure the market has changed and strategies have evolved, the channel’s viewer segmentation is instructive. That’s because, like most organizations, The Weather Channel attracts a mix of consumers.

The channel attracts a large number of people who view the weather only occasionally to get the forecast and go– averaging less than 5 minutes per tune-in. When there is an extreme weather event like a hurricane, this segment also drives viewership spikes. These consumers can be called “Extreme Weather Occasionalists.”

By contrast, there is another consumer group, called “Weather Enthusiasts,” who watch the weather regularly for extended periods of time. This segment is fascinated by weather and also interested in checking the forecast in other parts of the country where relatives and friends live. The Enthusiasts average over 20 minutes per tune-in. While this extended viewing might conjure up an image of retirees, Enthusiasts encompass a full range of demographic groups. My daughter had a childhood friend who followed the weather in any channel or format he could find and was clearly on his way to a weather-focused career.

Farmers are yet another segment who regularly check the weather, more from a B2B aspect.

It’s fairly typical for most user segmentations to include one or more moderately-to-highly involved groups, like Weather Enthusiasts and Farmers, along with one or more less-involved groups, like Extreme Weather Occasionalists. Knowing these segments and the content they prefer helped The Weather Channel grow their audience by 50%.

App User Segmentation: GrowIt!

Fast forward to 2018 when I caught up with Mason Day, Co-Founder of GrowIt!, a mobile app for home gardeners.

Two Consumer Behavior Case Studies: The Weather Channel and GrowIt!

Before founding GrowIt!, Day’s experience included management roles at Ball Horticultural and PanAmerican Seed, as well as formal education from Cornell, with a degree in Agricultural Sciences and Concentration in Applied Economics and Management. Growing up, he enjoyed years of hands-on experience, as his parents operate the Day Farm Greenhouse in Imlay, MI.

The GrowIt! app currently has 500,000 users. These users stand at the intersection of the tech world (typically 35 and younger) and the gardening world (which skews older). Half of GrowIt!’s consumers are Active Home Gardeners who regularly garden, while the other 50% are Occasional Plant Identifiers. Like extreme weather, plant identification is something that many people are interested in occasionally. And GrowIt!’s easy-to-use plant identification features are popular. Day explains,

“Plant identification is not central to the purpose of GrowIt!, but this feature does draw people to the app. GrowIt!’s goal is to create a community of engaged gardeners. Within the Active Home Gardener segment, there is a group of about 10% who are Passionate Home Gardeners and an even smaller, leading edge group called ‘Plant Masters’ who solve problems on the front end for the app.”

Two Consumer Behavior Case Studies: The Weather Channel and GrowIt!

But Why Do Consumers Do the Things They Do?

Simply segmenting viewers or users on their behavior is instructive. Knowing the frequency and length of visit/view or number of pages viewed is critical to decision-making. Insights like “the top 20% of users account for 80% of application visits” drive market and product strategy.

What’s less clear from this quantitative analysis, however, is the “why?” behind the consumer’s behavior. For example, Weather Enthusiasts’ viewing behavior was motivated by several reasons, including a desire to check weather in other parts of the country where relatives and friends live and also a lifelong interest in weather (like my daughter’s friend). The Weather Channel’s market strategies were most successful when they could address the motivations behind the viewing statistics.

To turn Occasional Plant Identifiers into frequent app users, GrowIt! must attract engaged gardeners among this group—those who identify plants because they want to grow them. For example, efforts to attract consumers who only identify plants on vacation won’t create the business results that GrowIt! seeks.

Take a look at your brand’s customer segments. You may know what your customers do, but do you understand why they do it?